It’s a whole new thought process.
Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”
You could say something similar about monogamy.
Because monogamy really is the worst kind of relationship… except for all the others.
Despite all of your reservations, despite all of your friends who tell you that “monogamy isn’t natural,” in the end, a committed, long-term relationship between two people is probably the easiest kind of romance to maintain.
That doesn’t mean that it’s always fun or satisfying, but, when you compare it to the soul-shaking anxieties of dating (or the insidious self-doubt that can come with “open relationships”), monogamy is almost always the lesser of the relationship evils.
But it’s not always easy to get started.
Even if you find a partner who is PERFECT for you, shifting into a monogamous relationship requires some major changes in your everyday thinking. Especially if you've spent most of your life hooking up or having casual sex.
You have to adopt a whole new mindset and completely redefine how you view yourself now that you’ve put dating behind you.
Here are 4 ways that you have to start “thinking monogamous” after you finally find that special someone:
1. To be happily monogamous, you need to regard yourself as “We” not “I”.
You don’t have to abandon your individual identity when you embrace monogamy, but you do have to realize that you’re essentially forming a partnership with the other person. You’re committing to them. You’re creating something together.
So, when you make certain decisions, you have to acknowledge that you can’t make them alone anymore. If you want to go to Europe for a month, you need to discuss it. If you want to buy 3 new dogs, you need to discuss it.
That might sound like the other person is crimping your style, but that’s just how partnerships work. You also get all the benefits of the partnership as well. You get their love, their commitment, their help and support. But, yeah, you have to run stuff past them too. Ideally, the trade-off is worth it.
2. Monogamy requires you to stop thinking of people according to their “dateability.”
When you’re single, you unconsciously group the people you interact with into different categories driven by your romantic/sexual urges. Is this a person I want to have sex with? Are they single? Are they available? Do I have a chance? Are they out of my league?
It can color all of your interactions with those people. You’re constantly aware of how interested you are (and your hook-up probability) and that informs how you behave around them. BUT, when you’re in a monogamous relationship, you have to move towards throwing that whole system out the window.
You have to figure out how to stop judging your coworkers by their relative hotness (for example) and find a new criteria to judge them. Maybe judge them by their words and actions (shocking). Or by how annoying they are. Or how annoying they aren’t.
The key is realizing that you’re still probably petty enough to judge them for SOMETHING, but just not having that “something” be how much you want to have sex with them.
3. To be monogamous, you have to live in the "now".
If you’re truly committed to monogamy, one of the hardest things you need to do is stop thinking about the eventual end of your relationship.
That’s a common thing when you’re dating or having casual sex. You’re always looking ahead. When will this end? What will I do next? Is this person marriage material or not?
But that’s a dating mindset — always looking for your next relationship (or the exit sign for your current one). However, if you’re actually trying to make monogamy work, you just have to go all in. You have to live in the moment and just assume that “Hey, this might not end.”
It doesn’t mean that it won’t, but you owe it to yourself (and your partner) to actually commit to your romance without hedging your bets, without always expecting the worst. That one simple action — not assuming that it will all end in tears — can make your current monogamous relationship SO much sweeter. (If you get your heart broken later, eh, it was always going to happen.)
4. Monogamy requires you to think about others first.
There’s a rule in improv comedy that says your first responsibility is to make everyone else on stage look good and not worry about yourself. The assumption there is that everyone else will be doing the exact same thing for you. You have their back, they have yours, and everyone works their butt off to bring out the best in each other.
That rule can actually be applied to monogamy as well. When you’re dating, your first instinct is always to look out for yourself. You have to stand up for yourself, you have to protect your heart.
But, when you’re in a committed relationship, you have to stop thinking about yourself as your first priority. Your thoughts can’t be so mercenary. You have to consider “How can I make my partner look good, feel happy, know they’re loved?” Because, ideally, your partner will be doing the same thing.
Monogamy is ultimately all about trust and commitment, so, occasionally, you have to do the big scary mental trust-fall and just assume that your partner is looking out for you.
Monogamy doesn’t mean abandoning yourself, but it does mean that you have to start thinking about more than yourself on a daily basis.
If you’re lucky, the benefits greatly outweigh the risks and you reap the rewards of loving and trusting so openly. If you’re not lucky, hell, at least, you know you gave it your all and committed to the relationship without always having one foot out the door.
And that’s something to be proud of.